Royal golf members tee off at Royal Port Alfred to keep a legacy going


The Royal Club tournament at Royal Port Alfred Golf Club (RPAGC) teed off earlier today to the strains of the bagpipes as representatives from the various Royal clubs across South Africa, including Zimbabwe, hoisted their flags to signal the start of the event.

A total of five Royal Clubs have entered this year’s tournament that ends on Sunday July 23.

About 50 golfers in total from their respective Royal Clubs, including Royal Port Alfred, are battling out on the greens of RPAGC in the tournament that has its beginnings in 1995. The event was put on hold for two years following the Covid 19 outbreak.

Excitement and expectation were palpable at the golfers’ breakfast table ahead of the Betterball Stableford competition tee off despite the cold weather. The practice greens were alive with activity as the golfers went through their routines before setting off for the day’s 18-hole battle.

Club captain at RPAGC, Mark Warren, says though the participating numbers are down marginally due to economic circumstances, it’s a huge honour to RPAGC that the tournament has stood the test of time.

“We appreciate the effort that people make to come to our golf club … some of them have been coming for many years. And it’s thanks to them that this legacy has been kept alive,” Warren said.

RPAGC manager Ken Brook said it was a huge honour to be part of the Royal Golf Club community as there are only a few golf clubs in the country and around the world who can boast the “Royal”  title.

“We at this tournament get to interact with other Royal club members who we never really see or get to know properly. All Royal Clubs in South Africa plus Harare are represented at this tournament … and it’s the only event where the Royals are all represented at one club and it happens every year, here at our club.”

Warren says the interaction and camaraderie among the golfers is something to be treasured.

“Traditions have remained … like the flag-raising ceremony with the Scottish bagpipes … and we plant five trees every year around the course. It keeps us on our toes … having the title Royal in front of our name means we have got to try to be a cut above everybody.

Renowned piper Chris Terry played during the flag-raising ceremony. Warren explained the significance.

“Golf started in Scotland and the bagpipes are the musical instrument of Scotland … and we like to uphold that little bit of royal and ancient tradition … ”

Different players will be representing their clubs on different days, so everyone has a chance at playing  – except Harare who have nine players in their group.

There is a definite balance between seriousness and fun during the tournament, says Warren.

“The fun aspect is there all the time … any competition is serious of course but the prime object of this tournament I think is the fellowship.”

The RPGAC very often receives high praise for the course layout and the upkeep of its greens. Warren explains why their golf club has maintained its high reputation.

“This course is well over a 100 years old … the layout hardly changes and we try to keep the vegetation natural,” says Warren. “The condition of the course is as good as it has ever been … hats off to our greenstaff led by Butch Lee.”

“We try to work with nature – and we limit chemical use to the absolute minimum,” says Warren. We only use insecticides when there’s a major outbreak and we only use natural ferrtilisers. We also plant five trees every  year of the tournament. ”

Brook says the economic benefits to the region are welcome.

“Some golfers have arrived three days before the tee off and went off to play in places like Humewood in Gqeberha and in Alexandria. They also visit shops and the mall to buy gifts and souveneirs to take home. So their arrival here hasn’t only benefited Port Alfred but surrounding towns and cities too.”